Channing Tatum
Channing Tatum promoting his new movie "The Book of Life." Getty Images

On October 17, the whole world will get a glimpse of what it’s like to celebrate Día de los Muertos, a very Mexican tradition that focuses on remembering the dead, celebrating their lives and gathering family and friends to do so in a lively manner, full of color and with specific rituals. With an incredible story by Jorge R. Gutiérrez and a lot of Latin flavor given by Diego Luna, Zoe Saldana, Kate del Castillo, Danny Trejo and more, the last person you would think fits that group is Channing Tatum.

However, he does bring everyone together! In “The Book of Life,” the new movie produced by Guillermo del Toro (read our review here), Tatum plays Joaquín, a charming, strong warrior. He’s best friends with Manolo (Diego Luna) and although they’re close, they’ll find themselves fighting for the love of their beloved María (Zoe Saldana). Joaquín is the town hero, almost like royalty. His good looks and charm will drive the girls crazy, and his ability to defend the town of San Angel will make men respect him.

Although Joaquín’s ways to win María at first will make him look like the bad guy of the story, he’s actually a cool dude, whose friendship with Manolo will remain, as they figure out how to deal with their infatuation with María. Will it be “bros before h**s” for them? Before learning how this love triangle unfolds, we caught up with Channing Tatum, who opened up about how he prepared to play Joaquín. “I really relied very heavily in my own Mexican culture and heritage – I’m kidding, that was a joke! – I mean, I think I always heard about Day of the Dead, but being an American kid from the South, I really didn’t know anything about the Mexican culture, and this was an education,” he said in a press conference.

The Book of Life
Joaquín, María and Manolo, main characters of "The Book of Life" in theaters now! 20th Century Fox

“I’m not a religious person, but I am a very spiritual person and I think the idea of life and then whatever comes after, that idea of when someone moves on to whatever’s after, if people that are still in this world treat them as if they’re there: cook them their favorite meal, serve their drinks that they used to like, tell their stories, jokes… and I think that’s a beautiful tradition.”

Tatum also revealed what it was like to play a Latino character, “That was a conversation I had with Jorge probably too late, cause I loved the story but then it dawned on me ‘I don’t think he would want me to do a Spanish accent, does he?’ And I asked him that and he was like, ‘No.’ Thank God! I think it really was about living in the world, this world, a very magical land.”

“I don’t know that I could speak to what it was like playing a Latin character, and I didn’t really try to portray that because we did want it to feel like not everyone had a Spanish sort of feeling, persona or voice, to give it a little bit more accessibility. I think that was smart so I didn’t feel like I could only connect to this if I was Latin. But it was cool. I learned a lot about that tradition specifically.”

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